(PEOTONE, Ill.) – A rare Beacon Ethyl Gasoline single-sided porcelain sign with a die-cut lighthouse-shaped design, made around 1940 and in remarkable condition (rated 9 on a scale of 1 to 10), gaveled for $55,000 at a Fall Petroliana & Automobilia Auction held Oct. 17-18 by Matthews Auctions, LLC, based in Nokomis, Ill. The sign was easily the top lot of the auction.
The two-day event was held in Peotone, Ill., prior to the start of the popular Chicagoland Petroleum & Advertising Show held twice a year, always in Peotone. The action kicked off on Thursday evening, Oct. 17, with 200 lots of petroliana (gas station collectibles) and automobilia. Another 450 lots came up for bid on Friday, Oct. 18. More than 200 people attended in person.
“This was our strongest and largest sale to date,” declared Dan Matthews of Matthews Auctions, LLC. And that’s no small statement, considering the firm has been holding petroliana and automobilia auctions for many years. Matthews added, “We had lots of aggressive buyers, in person, online and over the phone. By the time it was all done, we had grossed over $800,000.”
More than 350 people bid online, through Proxibid.com, while 30 more bidders each bid by phone and through absentee (left) bidding. “The spirited bidding resulted in record prices for some items, including the Beacon Ethyl sign,” Matthews said. That sign – measuring 48 inches by 30 inches and boasting great gloss and color – was similar to one Matthews sold last spring.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 10 percent buyer’s premium.
An exceedingly rare Rickenbacker Authorized Flat Rate Service double-sided porcelain sign, saying “A car worthy of its name” (a reference to the auto maker’s famous founder, Eddie Rickenbacker, the highly decorated World War I flying ace), rated near-mint at 9+, showing the Rickenbacker firm’s iconic logo and measuring 16 inches by 30 inches, topped out at $38,500.
A scarce double-sided porcelain die-cut sign for Rand McNally Official Hotel, with a graphic of a Native American drawing on a wall, rated 9, measuring 17 inches by 14 inches and featuring super gloss and color, with just a few chips at the top edge, knocked down at $29,700. The sign was the most common of the five types produced, and was probably made in the 1920s.
A super rare Wyeth Tires single-sided porcelain curved shield-shaped sign, rated near-mint at 9+ and showing a whimsical graphic of a boy in early driving gear sitting in a stack of tires, breezed to $34,100. The 22 inch by 18 inch sign was marked “Wyeth Hardware & Mfg. Company, St. Joseph, Mo.” and “Burdick Consumer Building, Chicago and Beaver Falls, Pa.”
A Mohawk Gasoline single-sided tombstone-shaped neon sign mounted on a can, rated 9, 52 inches by 44 inches and with a graphic of an Indian with a single feather, with the can new and the neon in working condition, fetched $30,800; and an Oilzum Motor Oils (“The Cream of Pure Pennsylvania Oil”) double-sided porcelain sign with logo, rated 9 and 8.75, 24 inches in diameter, with both sides showing nice gloss and color, went to a determined bidder for $27,500.
A set of five Weed (tire) Chains signs and displays were sold as single lots. One was a metal counter-top display with contents (chains, pliers, bags and more), in overall good condition (except for some minor wear). It brought $8,250. Also, a Mother Penn Motor Oil single-sided porcelain neon sign with logo, mounted on an original can, rated 9, changed hands for $16,500.
A Peerless Stages Bus Depot double-sided porcelain shield-shaped sign with great gloss and color and in super condition, measuring 36 inches by 31 inches, hammered for $33,000; and a Dodge Service double-sided porcelain sign with early “DB” (Dodge Brothers) logo, rated 8.75 and so scarce Dan Matthews said he’d never sold one before, went to a new owner for $7,150.
A Saxon Motor Car double-sided porcelain sign, rated 9 on one side and 8.9 on the other, 18 inches by 18 inches, marked Ohio Valley Enameling Co. (Huntington, W. Va.), with great graphics, garnered $19,800; and a Cadillac double-sided porcelain oval sign with crest logo, rated 9, 35 inches by 55 inches, with clean fields and very nice gloss and color, rose to $17,600.
A Paragon Motor Oil double-sided porcelain sign with derrick, truck and refinery graphics and in the original ring, 26 inches in diameter and boasting good color and gloss, hit $16,500; and an original Auburn Sales & Service porcelain flange sign, rated 9.5, marked Veribrite Signs (Chicago) and the first time one has been sold by Matthews, made $14,800.
Matthews Auctions’ next big event will be the third annual Thanksgiving gun, antique advertising and petroliana sale, slated for Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Raymond, Ill. Day one will feature guns, firearms advertising and coins, to include a collection of silver dollars (1880s-1920s); days two and three will have petroliana (including rare gas pumps), soda pop and country store items.
Dan Matthews has written a book about petroliana, titled The Fine Art of Collecting and Displaying Petroliana. For more information on how to order a copy, log on to the Matthews Auctions website, at www.matthewsauctions.com. Or, order a copy by calling 1-877-968-8880.
Matthews Auctions, LLC, is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single item or a collection, you may call them at (217) 563-8880; or, you can send an e-mail to email@example.com. For more information about Matthews Auctions and the upcoming Nov. 29-Dec. 1 auction in Raymond, Ill., log on to www.matthewsauctions.com.